Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Farming › Psychology of plowing right hand vs. left
- May 11, 2015 at 8:24 am #85545wild millersParticipant
I’m curious if anyone else has ever struggled with plowing to the right or left? Ever since I first picked up a plow I have always felt more comfortable turning a left hand furrow. Both my walking plow and riding plow are two way machines and inevitably, my right hand furrows are always messing up my left hand furrows.
If I focus really hard and put a lot of effort into it, I can eventually turn furrows to the right with some degree of success though it never feels natural. It’s hard to describe, though I’m sure others of you have felt it before..when turning my furrows to the left I can simply feel it. It feels more natural, I don’t have to focus so hard and can actually relax and enjoy the work. It’s like I know how the furrow is turning without having to keep looking at it.
A few theories I have had are that perhaps it is just because the near horses I have plowed with have always been better at walking the furrow than the off horses, though the off horses are able to do that work as well.
Or perhaps, in the back of my mind, I have always turned left hand furrows, perhaps even in other life times as would befit my ancestral German heritage. I understand that the Amish prefer left handed plows.
Anyone else have any thoughts or experiences with this? Or possibly know any more of the history/traditions of plowing right vs. left?May 11, 2015 at 8:32 pm #85547Rivendell FarmParticipant
Are you left handed? Just curious. BobMay 11, 2015 at 11:40 pm #85549
If your like the rest of us,we like a good job when we are done. If one of your horses walks the furrow better, that direction will look better when done. There for you get to liking that direction. I was faced with the same when using the two way plow. After much work and readjustment, I found it boiled down to how the job looked. Furrow left still turned over enough to say ‘its plowed’, but did not have the nice smooth flowing look as turning it to the right.This smooth look came from the horse walking steady in the furrow, never ‘stepping up’ or ‘out’.May 12, 2015 at 5:19 am #85550Carl RussellModerator
It certainly is an interesting concept. As far as your plows though, I wonder if it has more to do with the previous users. Did they wear out the right hand sides?
Anyway, I do find myself innately choosing to circle left more often, and will become aware of it in the midst of harrowing, or some other repetitive turning. In the woods even, I will often choose to set up my turns in the same direction time and time again. It has been that way for years over many horses.
Must be like water going down the toilet, energy swirling in the cortex of my brain in a certain direction.
When the kids were very young, as part of our non-school homeschooling, we did some Brain Games, that used reversing rotation, and limb and body cross-overs as way to enliven the brain. By changing perception from side to side, mentally and physically, we activate many areas of our brains that we habitually close down due to developed comfort.
Are you really dissatisfied with the right hand furrow, or are you just feeling stimulation from reversing the turn? Maybe it is a worthy exercise for you to open your perception to action in that direction…….May 12, 2015 at 7:08 am #85552wild millersParticipant
Good thoughts guys
Bob- I am right handed.
J.L Holt- I agree, I like the job well done and evenly turned. It is not that my off horse can’t walk the furrow, he can and will if we work on it together. It may be a combination though of off horse being a little less graceful in the furrow and the near horse being a little less sure of himself when he’s out of the furrow.
That lead’s to Carl’s thoughts- I do find myself more often than not turning left with the cultivator and harrows now that I think of it.
I have been dissatisfied enough with the right hand furrow to avoid it entirely while breaking this new ground. I think that is mainly attributed to a fear of not being able to properly turn the old sod that I need to have thoroughly broken down by next spring.
For now I will keep plowing left since I don’t mind breaking the field into lands anyway. Sometimes a long sweeping turn at the headland is smoother and flows better than stopping the team to swing 180 degrees back into the furrow.
I’m sure that Carl is right saying it would be a good exercise for my horses and myself to really work at the right turn more, I just need to find a chance to do that when not so much is at stake in the quality of the finished job. Perhaps a way to approach the right hand plowing aspect is to find more chances to work on turning/swinging right in other aspects of our farm work for a while before putting more time into the plowing.
Maybe some cross over brain exercises would be a good thing to work on with our daughter to stimulate both of our brains!May 12, 2015 at 10:46 am #85554
you speak of off horse being less graceful in furrow..i try to remember the furrow horse is really trying to walk a tight rope while keeping his balance and putting enough power into it to pull the plow.May 12, 2015 at 5:29 pm #85556Donn HewesKeymaster
It would be interesting to hear from Sam Rich or some of our other most experienced plowmen on this question. I would guess that many folk with two way plows of all types see a difference between one direction and the other. I have known some that couldn’t or wouldn’t use the offending side.
With a one way plow you can always make small changes to make the horses spacing and plow travel just that tiny bit better. But with a two way you have to be careful not to improve one direction while making the other worse. One thing folks sometime forget is how the off horse can throw off a plow. Walking close, or facing out; in front or behind, will all move the plow a little. So if the lines, and hitch and everything is all set up to encourage one direction to be perfect, the difference between the two horses might make it hard to get the same result at the same time in the other direction.
Just brain storming here. Trying to be distracted while my wife digs a thorn out of my hand! I have never owned or used two way plow, but only tried to help a couple friends on different occasions; usually when it worked better in one direction than the other. D
There are really very few things that we do that are asymmetrical in this way. Even in something as precise as cultivating, if you made a slight adjustment for a slight difference between animals, it would remain consistent as you went up and down the rows.May 12, 2015 at 6:21 pm #85557HowieParticipant
The land plowed with the ox long before the horse and the driver was on the left.
It just made sense for the driver to walk on the land.
RIGHT HAND PLOW
HowieMay 12, 2015 at 7:31 pm #85558mitchmaineParticipant
i’m right handed and like a right hand plow, and i think it comes from the walking plow but i noticed today that the best side of my sulky plow is the lefthanded side. so i’m leaning with carl about the plow set up. at the riskofpointing out the obvious, i know you know this and i know it too, but when my plowing job is not working, its usually the evener hasn’t slid over to the beam all the way. i usually take it for granted its over there and easy to overlook sometimes. good luck there
mitchMay 13, 2015 at 9:05 pm #85568dominiquer60Moderator
Quickly before our internet curfew.
From Sam Rich: If all things (animals, plow, etc) are equal it doesn’t matter which way you plow as long as you are happy with the results. Animals and plow set up can cause variations. With a walking plow he prefers right handed, it is just what he has always used, and having started with oxen, he thinks that Howie’s theory is a good one.
Our 2 way plow has been taken apart and adjusted many times, but each side still plows a little differently no matter how properly it is set or adjusted. I can plow either way if I have the horses that I like to plow with, the wrong combination and I get frustrated no matter the direction.May 13, 2015 at 11:21 pm #85570
had a horse one time that would pull your hair out..he would walk one step over on new plowing, and the next time you looked up he was stepping out on the land. But in the end the job looked ok. You had a hard time pointing out the spots where he was not walking where I really wanted him,’as four feet in bottom of furrow’.
lot of water over the dam now, bigger fish to fry, its all good.
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